Bynum looks for more sacks in Big 12 tuneup

Friday, September 27, 2002

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- With four sacks in a game last year against Oklahoma State, Missouri's Antwaun Bynum placed his name next to former all-American Justin Smith in the school's record book.

This year, the defensive end is set to shatter one of Smith's other records. With five sacks in three games, Bynum is on pace for 20 this season; Smith holds the record with 11.

Bynum's last chance to pad that total before the Tigers start their Big 12 conference schedule is Saturday, when Missouri (2-1) comes off its bye week to host Troy State (1-3) at Faurot Field. Once play begins in the Big 12, Bynum said, those sacks will be harder to come by.

"Hopefully, I can just continue to make plays to help my team win," Bynum said.

So far, Troy State hasn't posed much of a test for the Big 12. The Trojans lost their opener at Nebraska, 31-16, and fell last week at Iowa State, 42-12. Coach Larry Blakeney expects to see more of the same from the Tigers.

"Missouri is a Big 12 team and they look like a Big 12 team," Blakeney said. "Moving the football and throwing the football, playing defense, it will be a challenge."

On defense, Bynum has been at the core of that challenge since coach Gary Pinkel moved the senior from St. Louis from linebacker to defensive end in spring 2001.

"When we saw him, we said we may have a guy here who could play linebacker, but a guy that if we put him down in a three-point stance, he would have exceptional speed at defensive end," Pinkel said.

Although his increased quickness has been a factor in his success, Bynum said the biggest difference has been his position on the field. Rather than simply being the right or left end, defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is lining Bynum up on the wide side of the field.

"Coach decided I need more space," Bynum said. "It gives me more room to work."

Eberflus said the change has given Bynum the chance to produce more sacks and quarterback hurries.

"He certainly has the capability to make big plays," Eberflus said. "And we need more from him."-- AP

Whitney says he's OK with redshirt possibility

Freshman tailback Mario Whitney of Jackson has rushed for just 7 yards on five carries so far this season.

The most highly anticipated recruit under Pinkel struggled in his first two games. Whitney's rookie season is in jeopardy thanks to a separated left shoulder suffered during pregame drills at Bowling Green two weeks ago.

Whitney, who has gained just 7 rushing yards on five carries, will definitely miss Saturday's home game against Troy State. His fate beyond that will depend on the speed of his recovery and/or the judgment of the MU coaching staff. For now, Whitney is warming up to the idea of redshirting.

"It's definitely a benefit," Whitney said Wednesday. "It's a benefit for anyone. It gives you an extra year to get bigger and stronger. Whatever happens, happens.

"It's going to be tough because I know what" playing "is like. And now I'm going to have to sit out and watch everybody do what I was doing."

--Columbia Daily Tribune

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